Shopping in San Diego can be a time- and money-saving experience for residents and visitors alike. The city boasts various shopping options, from boutiques to malls and museum gift shops.
Fashion Valley Mall is at the top of the list of best shopping experiences in San Diego. Although the stores here can be found throughout the nation, this mall offers an unparalleled variety of shops and a larger selection of merchandise than its local counterparts. Visitors with varying budgets will find plenty of options for shopping and dining at this mall, from Neiman Marcus to H&M.
For a unique shopping experience, Urban Seed is a charming home decor boutique in the touristy Old Town area. It offers impressive, earthy displays and a selection of soaps, plants, cut flowers, paper, and home decor items that keep locals returning often.
Visitors to Balboa Park should plan for extra time to wander into the museum gift shops for unique gift ideas. Entry to these gift shops is free, and the favorite among visitors is the Mingei International Museum Collector’s Gallery / Museum Store. This store offers a diverse selection of books, DIY crafts, jewelry, and more, making it a great place to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
The Best Places for Shopping in San Diego
1. FASHION VALLEY
Fashion Valley is an ideal spot for shoppers in the heart of San Diego’s Mission Valley district. Its two-level outdoor ambiance makes it a great place to enjoy a day of shopping and dining. With over 200 stores and restaurants, the center offers a wide variety of options – from Macy’s to Tiffany & Co., Bloomingdales to Prada. For an extra special shopping experience, the center is home to the city’s only TopShop, AllSaints, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. Visitors can enjoy outdoor cafes and sit-down restaurants throughout the complex on a break from shopping. Parking is convenient, including valet during the busy holiday rush.
Fashion Valley is a great choice for anyone looking for the best shopping experience – with its variety of retailers and restaurants, there are plenty of options to help find exactly what you’re looking for.
Westfield UTC is an open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment destination that is not to be missed. Here, you can escape everyday life, relax under the palm trees and sunshine, and enjoy the best of southern California.
Westfield UTC is anchored by Nordstrom and Macy’s and offers a luxurious shopping experience with impeccable customer service and amenities. It also has plenty of family-friendly activities, signature events, and entertainment.
Recently, $180 million was invested in the renovation and expansion of Westfield UTC, turning it into a resort-inspired destination. It now boasts over 200 stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues, including new A-list shops, full-service restaurants, and lifestyle and entertainment options. San Diego’s first ArcLight Cinemas also provides a 14-screen, 1,800-seat luxury theater experience. Additionally, an expanded 24-Hour Fitness Super Sport club has been added.
3. HORTON PLAZA
Horton Plaza is a shopping mall that has been a San Diego icon since its construction in the mid-1980s. It is renowned for its colorful and whimsical architecture, setting it apart from other malls in the region. This multi-level and intricate complex is credited with jumpstarting the Renaissance of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. It continues to be a popular destination for visitors and downtown workers alike.
The mall contains major retailers and many shops, eateries, and restaurants. During the holiday season, it is further enhanced with the addition of an outdoor ice-skating rink. In terms of convenience, this is a very centrally-located mall for visitors staying in Downtown San Diego, making it a great choice for the best shopping in San Diego.
4. CARLSBAD PREMIUM OUTLETS
The Carlsbad Premium Outlets provide shoppers with unbeatable savings, offering discounts of up to 65% off retail prices. This outlet mall is conveniently located just west of The Flower Fields and east of the I-5, near LEGOLAND. Plenty of parking around the mall and a handful of stores across the street.
At the Carlsbad Premium Outlets, there are over 90 stores and restaurants. Popular stores include Barney’s New York, Banana Republic, Gap, Theory, Stride Rite, Coach, Skechers, and Crate and Barrel. You can even find current merchandise at discounted prices. Fast-casual dining options, such as Ruby’s Diner and Rubio’s, and a sit-down restaurant, Bellefleur, are available.
The Carlsbad Premium Outlets are highly recommended for the best shopping in North County San Diego due to the variety of stores and brands, including Barney’s and Kate Spade.
5. LA JOLLA
La Jolla’s Prospect Street is renowned for its upscale shopping and breathtaking ocean views. It is often referred to as the Rodeo Drive of San Diego, with various small specialty shops, boutiques, antique emporiums, and art galleries. Girard and Ivanhoe Streets, intersecting Prospect, are also lined with great boutique stores.
The area is known for its fashionable designer apparel and unique and exquisite jewelry. Although some big-brand stores have recently opened, La Jolla still has that small-town charm. Street parking is 1-hour, but there are lots and other streets with 2-hour parking. Within walking distance of the shops, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.
Overall, La Jolla’s Prospect Street is a great destination for shopping due to its variety of stores, restaurants, and beautiful ocean views, all within walking distance of each other.
6. GASLAMP QUARTER
The Gaslamp Quarter is a national historic district in downtown San Diego, consisting of 16 blocks. It is filled with over 100 specialty shops, art galleries, restaurants, theaters, and nightclubs, providing plenty of entertainment after the sun sets. Shopping in the Gaslamp Quarter offers many unique experiences. Visitors can find cutting-edge fashion in independent boutiques and retailers such as Urban Outfitters, The Puma Store, Volcom, and Quicksilver. For more specialized shopping, there is Street Machine, offering skateboarding gear, the Cuban Cigar Factory, where cigars are hand-rolled on-site, and Lucky Dog, offering outrageous pet fashions.
Horton Plaza provides parking with a validation from their kiosk, allowing up to 3 hours of free parking. For this and many other reasons, the Gaslamp Quarter is Recommended for the best shopping in San Diego.
7. LITTLE ITALY
Little Italy in San Diego is a vibrant area that pays homage to the Italian and Sicilian immigrants who settled on its shores in the early 20th Century. It has retained its historic identity while also embracing urban chic.
This district is a great place to spend an afternoon shopping. The range of stores is vast, with art galleries, home decor stores, boutiques, antique dealers, and jewelry stores. There are also salons and plenty of Italian eateries.
On Saturdays, Little Italy is home to one of San Diego’s most popular Farmer’s Markets, where local artisans offer a variety of fresh produce and products.
Little Italy is recommended for the best shopping in San Diego because it has numerous home decor and antique stores, clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, and salons.
8. BALBOA PARK
Balboa Park is San Diego’s green oasis, offering a variety of cultural institutions and museums. It is the perfect destination for individuals looking to learn and explore. With over 15 museums and cultural institutions, the park has something for everyone.
One of the main highlights of Balboa Park is the Spanish Village Arts Centre. It allows over 200 local artisans to display their Hispanic-influenced jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and housewares. For art enthusiasts, the San Diego Museum of Art Store is the perfect place to find their next home artwork piece. History buffs, meanwhile, can browse local memorabilia at the San Diego History Centre Museum Store.
Last, but not least, visitors should not leave Balboa Park without visiting the neighboring San Diego Zoo, which is renowned as one of the best zoos in the USA.
9. SEAPORT VILLAGE
The Headquarters at Seaport is a renowned San Diego Waterfront Icon restored with a brand new style. This legendary building, which served as the San Diego Police Department’s Headquarters from 1939 until 2007, has been transformed into an artfully designed open-air lifestyle center. It is home to an exclusive collection of specialty shops and restaurants catering to San Diego’s most discerning residents and visitors.
The Headquarters at Seaport offers an extraordinary experience with a delightful destination of restaurants such as Puesto & Eddie V’s and specialty boutiques such as Coco Rose, Urban Beach House, and Madison San Diego. In addition, visitors can explore the original 5-by-8-foot inmate jail cells, historic photos, and police memorabilia on public display. This unique and remarkable transformation gives this historic waterfront region new life, promising a renaissance of style and youthful energy.
Coronado’s coastline is a sight to behold. Its wide sandy beaches feature sparkling sand, courtesy of the mineral Mica, and draw in visitors worldwide. Referred to as the “Crown City,” due to its name meaning “the crowned one” in Spanish, it is no wonder this charming small town is so popular. Coronado is a delightful place to explore with its elegant gardens, old-world mansions, and quaint shops.
The boardwalk along the beach is a great place to rent a bike and tour the island. Orange Avenue, Coronado’s main artery, has shops, restaurants, galleries, theaters, and the Coronado Museum of History & Art. Visitors can also enjoy the fantastic oceanfront dining and stunning sunset views. At the other end of the island, Coronado’s Ferry Landing offers a collection of more than 20 shops, art galleries, and restaurants, with views of San Diego’s downtown skyline. Visitors can take advantage of the low-cost ferry service from the landing across the bay to Seaport Village, located on the edge of downtown.
11. LAS AMERICAS PREMIUM OUTLETS
Las Americas Premium Outlets is the largest outlet center in the area, offering 125 stores with exceptional brands and daily savings of 25% to 65%. Popular brands include Adidas, Kate Spade New York, Kipling, Michael Kors, Nike Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, J.Crew, and Tommy Hilfiger. Moreover, there are a variety of eateries and restaurants dotting the center.
The center is also characterized by its beautiful courtyards, fountains, statues, and elegant architecture. It is located at the junction of two countries, two major cities, two cultures, world-class tourism, and the world’s busiest international border crossing.
The VIP Shopper Club is an exclusive membership-based club for the savviest shoppers. It is free to join, and members can access exclusive online offers not available to the public. Additionally, members receive periodic updates about the center.
12. OLD TOWN
Old Town is a vibrant San Diego district showcasing the city’s unique Mexican heritage. Filled with colorful shop vendors, boutiques, and a festive atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to explore and find something special. Visitors can shop till they drop at Bazaar del Mundo, a Mexican-style market with hundreds of local vendors selling everything from handicrafts to jewelry. There are also numerous art galleries where you can admire the work of local artists and perhaps buy a gemstone necklace for that special someone.
Head to Fiesta Reyes for delicious food and entertainment when it’s time for a break. While you eat, you can enjoy storytelling and live music performances. To reach Old Town San Diego, take the namesake transit stop, easily accessible from anywhere in the city.
Located just a few miles north of San Diego’s bustling downtown, Hillcrest is a vibrant neighborhood that serves as the city’s LGBTQ+ central hub. With an array of bars, restaurants, coffee houses, boutiques, and unique shops, the area is renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and pedestrian-friendly streets.
Hillcrest is the perfect spot for a shopping excursion. There is a wide range of establishments with various wares, from cool trinkets to used books, vintage clothing, and memorabilia. Additionally, there are plenty of reasonably priced, international dining options available.
SHOPPING IN SAN DIEGO FAQ
Does San Diego have a fashion district?
Yes, San Diego has a fashion district. Fashion Valley, located in the Mission Valley district, is a premier shopping destination in the city. It boasts over 200 stores, restaurants, and an outdoor atmosphere that adds to the shopping experience.
What is the famous shopping street in California?
Prospect Street and Girard Avenue are two well-known streets for shopping in La Jolla. They intersect, making it more convenient for shoppers.
Girard Avenue is like a journey to the past. It resembles Main Street in many American towns, with various shops and restaurants. It is a great place to stroll down and enjoy the atmosphere.
What are the best places for shopping in San Diego?
San Diego is known for its great shopping options. The San Diego Factory Outlet Center is great for discounted items from various brands. La Jolla Open Aire Market is a great spot to find unique items from local vendors at discounted prices. Seaport Village is great for those looking for a more upscale shopping experience. Westfield UTC offers a variety of stores for shoppers of all tastes and budgets. Lastly, Fashion Valley offers an outdoor shopping experience with multiple stores and restaurants.